Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crime Statistics Are Not What They Seem

An anonymously written letter sent to a number of MPs had alleged that the police and Putrajaya's efficiency unit Pemandu had tinkered with statistics and the classification of offences to show that the crime rate had fallen. Simply put, the authorities have been hoodwinking us with crime statistics that are palatable and only because they have been manipulated to serve a political end.

The said letter was purportedly written under the pseudonym Sumun Osram by an insider, a police officer wishing to remain anonymous. [I don’t blame him – in Malaysia, we have The Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 but whistleblowers are the ones getting arrested].

This deception is dastardly simple – it depends on the manner in which crime is classified. In this case, it is index crime or non-index crime. Official crime statistics, however, consist of only index crime. "The 'Sumun Osram' letter had charged that there is a systemic attempt to lower the crime statistics by shifting the index crime to the non-index crime when police reports are made.

According to the letter, which was made available to The Malaysian Insider, "Index crime is defined as crime which is reported with sufficient regularity and with sufficient significance to be meaningful as an index to the crime situation. Non-index crime’, on the other hand, is considered as cases minor in nature and does not occur with such rampancy to warrant its inclusion into the crime statistics or as a benchmark to determine the crime situation.

‘Index crime’ consists of two categories. One is ‘Violent Crime’ and the other is ‘Property Crime’.’Violent Crime’ comprises of murder; rape; armed robbery with accomplice; robbery with accomplice; armed robbery; robbery; and causing hurt. Meanwhile ‘property crime’ comprises of theft; car theft; motorcycle theft; heavy vehicle theft; snatch theft; and burglary. These are the crimes used as statistics to portray the crime situation.

Therefore, NOT all police reports made went into the crime statistics. If they did, perhaps, crime in Malaysia may equal to that in Gotham! That explains why in my “crime” blogposts I had summoned Batman to come and rescue Malaysians from this sense of helplessness – read my blogposts at these links

Also the writer of the letter detailed specific examples of how the crime index was manipulated: Certainly, the accusation is very grave indeed because it casts misgivings on the integrity of official statistics, and, by extension, the credibility of the Home Ministry, Pemandu, and the Malaysian police. Distrust is the word to best describe what I feel about the government.

John Lau has become the first Malaysian to be elected president of Toastmasters International for the 2012-2013 term. He is the sixth president outside of North America in the 88-year history of TI which has 280,000 members in 13,500 clubs in 116 countries. Congrats, John Lau!

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